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This very chic "apartment" is actually a store you can visit

Besides its curated range of exotic bags and vintage accessories, Ling Wu Le Salon is also a place to chill and hear new stories

Photo: Ling Wu Le Salon/ Natsuko Teruya


To get to Ling Wu Le Salon, start at serene Jalan Merah Saga at Chip Bee Gardens. Nothing on street level indicates where the shop is. Hold on now. Look for a stairwell that’s sandwiched between dessert cafes Sunday Folks and The Daily Scoop, then head up to the second story. Turn to your left. It’s behind a nondescript wooden door. And don’t think you got it wrong when you see an apartment instead of a conventional store.


Photo: Ling Wu Le Salon

Le Salon is not Goh Ling Ling's first retail gig. She had lingerie store F.ling at The Heeren before department store Robinsons set up its flagship in the building.


The act of discovery is how its founder/designer Goh Ling Ling, 43, a mother of three kids, prefers it. It is part of what she calls the art of “storytelling” at Le Salon.


Photo: Ling Wu Le Salon/ Natsuko Teruya


Intimate and tucked away, it’s designed to look like someone lives there - someone whose taste you wish you had, someone who has a very curated eye. Because it looks so inviting, you want to poke around, stay longer than you intended to, and chill.


Photo: Ling Wu Le Salon/ Natsuko Teruya


“You don’t need to rush here, or feel pressured to buy anything,” says Goh. “Come in, bring some friends, and relax. I always offer water, wine, coffee or tea to anyone who visits, too.” The hospitality extends further when you give her a heads-up: she will prep wine and cheese or tea and cakes - to your preference.

“I had seven women come in recently. They were childhood friends who wanted to shop in a relaxed environment. I served tea and cakes, and they not only shopped a lot, but also caught up with each other for almost four hours. They had an amazing time and want to do it again.”


Photo: Ling Wu Le Salon/ Natsuko Teruya


Goh, who also owns bag label Ling Wu, doesn’t live at Le Salon. It’s her office and space to showcase her point of view: the bags in exotic skins that she designs and sells (she offers customised ones too); the vintage bags and accessories (which she also sells); the restored vintage furniture, including some designer originals, from The Salvation Army and sources in the Europe and US (none of the this furniture is for sale - yet), jewellery (which is for sale), and home-fragrance products (also for sale) handmade by her Australian husband.

“When I opened Le Salon, I was thinking we couldn’t just have handbags. We needed more than that.” That’s why she works with designers and artisans on things that are not run-of-the-mill.


Photo: Ling Wu Le Salon/ Natsuko Teruya


“I think that collaborating and working with people with different skill sets and design elements is very important. We are currently working on a special project with an NGO based in Hue, Vietnam. A whole village of carvers who used to carve pagodas and wooden doors for the royal palace no longer had jobs because nobody wanted to buy carved wood anymore. That was until a Vietnamese-American woman from New York moved to Vietnam after 9/11 to help these people connect their craft with the West. She is helping me to connect with the artisans, and we’re thinking of making bag handles out of wood.


Photo: Ling Wu Le Salon/ Natsuko Teruya


“These artisans are really unique to work with, because you don’t just give them the specs and measurements and let them work on it. It’s a collaboration. You give them ideas instead. It’s really a designer and an artisan working together.

The whole point of Le Salon is to take customers through these stories. It’s not just buying a bag from a mall.”


Photo: Ling Wu Le Salon/ Natsuko Teruya


A Ling Wu bag = A customised work bag


Most of Goh’s customers are working professionals. That’s why the bags she designs and makes at Le Salon are not trend-forward but classics that you use again and again. Here’s how to get your sorted.

  • The service begins with a one-on-one with Goh, no appointment required. Just come any time during Le Salon’s operating hours, and she will be there for you.
  • View her collection of bags in the inventory room and pick a style you like. You can also refer to photographs from past collections, or create a customised style. “What we don’t do is replicate an Hermes,” says Goh.
  • Choose the skin, colour, lining, clasp, pockets, and the length and width of the strap.


Photo: Ling Wu Le Salon/ Natsuko Teruya


  • Goh’s crocodile skins come from one of Singapore’s last two such factories. The python skins are from Indonesia. “I work with very good artisans in Indonesia. I’ve been working with the same factory for seven years, since I started my label in 2010.”
  • Medium python bags can hold a 13-inch laptop. “Customers use these for travel. You can put your cashmere scarf, iPad, a magazine and everything else in there and it still looks quite chic although it’s classic.”
  • Price range: from $150 for a small wallet to $1,500 for a medium python bag, and in excess of $3,000 for a more expensive skin like crocodile.
  • Bags are usually ready in around eight weeks.


Photo: Ling Wu Le Salon/ Natsuko Teruya


What else you can get at Le Salon:


Ling Wu Le Salon opens on weekdays, 10am-6pm, and Saturday, 11am-5pm. Address: #02-78, 43 Jalan Merah Saga, tel: 9696-3118. Home delivery of purchases can be arranged.


This story was first published in the January 2018 issue of Her World magazine.